Rushing to Conclusions

alex01thumbI heard this mentioned on the news, and I just wanted to say: Rush Limbaugh…meet me at paragraph three for an important lesson in Latin and debate.

“[E]verywhere Obama is spreading Obamaism there is a deadly disease taking place, either in the TARP community or the newspaper business. Obama goes to Mexico; they have an earthquake. Obama goes to Mexico, they get pig flu. I mean, the fact is that Barack Obama is bad for business. He is poison to prosperity.”

Rush. Rush, honey. Pay attention, because I only have enough patience to say this once. I learned this in Latin class, and if I didn’t I’d have learned it from The West Wing. You just used a logical fallacy known as “post hoc, ergo propter hoc”, which doesn’t mean “after hoc, therefore something else hoc”, it means “after this, therefore because of this.” In layman’s terms, it doesn’t mean that because x happened, it caused y. Earthquakes are caused by tectonic shift; diseases are caused and propagated by unsanitary breeding conditions and live hosts to pass them along. For a personal example, I forgot my lucky necklace at home on 9/11. I felt a bizarre responsibility for it, even though I knew that it was correlation, not causation. I can be forgiven, though – I was ten.

Good try though, Rush. Just the thing to stir up fear and hatred in your listeners, though, right? “Obama is the cause of all of our problems. Obama is a socialist. Obama is a closet Muslim. Obama will kill your dog.” Yeah. Right. Not pushing any agenda here (or that famed Liberal Media Bias that I hear so much about), just, you know, grow up. I’m a tolerant person (and apparently an ideological masochist because I think it’s fun to hear this and challenge my preconceived notions by listening to other ideas), and I love seeing unfounded mass chickens-with-their-heads-cut-off panic if I can get some popcorn with it, but this “rah rah rah socialist rah rah rah ACORN rah rah rah rah” business is getting old – don’t you have something else to natter on about? Like the pitiful state of our nursing home system, for example? Or are you just afraid of saying something that matters for a change? I’m all for an exchange of ideas – I welcome it! – but reasonable dialogue requires that both sides be amenable to listening as well as talking. We’re not going to get anything done if we just toss fallacies like post hoc and strawmen at each other.

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27 Comments

  1. YEAH!!!, you go Alex!!

    Tell it like it is! LOVES IT!

    oh and nevermind, that everything the Obama’s touch, sells out within hours when it hits the airwaves…lol

    Rush had his brain replaced with his lower intestine….

  2. Thank Obama. Someone other than me remembers what a post hoc fallacy is. O did debate in high school. Have you met Caleb yet?

  3. Alex,

    So I’m guessing you didn’t know he was kidding..?

  4. Great article by the way. I can’t see what I write in the black background b/c my eyes suck. Yeah, Michelle and I mentioned we enjoyed your writing, but, that’s where I draw the line.

  5. Thanks for your comments, guys. I actually met Caleb in person before I followed him on Twitter and so on (same time I met TC), Cube – but I must admit I haven’t really been keeping up!

  6. Testify, Brutha Tommy! Hallelujah!

  7. I believe I’ve written a masterpiece. “All Pigs Must Die! A Call To Arms” How many paces Alex? Caleb’s middle name is “post hoc!” But, he’s our little post hocker. I reckon if you click on “Cube” you can see my cyberzine.

  8. Ulises: It’s more of a problem I have with his style – it was just this instance that bothered me enough to post about it. Fallacies are fallacies…and besides, Limbaugh’s likely to be taken straight-face seriously by all manner of people on both the right and the left. There’s kidding, and then there’s incitement to violence.

    Cube: Post hoc can be fun! “My cat ate a bug today. Therefore, he is responsible for the decline in the worldwide bee population.”

  9. I don’t think Rush was kidding, at least not the way a normal person does it. He was kidding on the square, like, “Haha! Obama’s evil! Haha! but really, the guy is E to the VIL!”

  10. […] Rushing to Conclusions […]

  11. I had sex with this girl when I was fifteen and it was spectacular. Of course, my sex life has gotten progressively more awesome since. I’ve moved on to picking from the pages of Playboy.

  12. “Ulises: It’s more of a problem I have with his style – it was just this instance that bothered me enough to post about it. Fallacies are fallacies…and besides, Limbaugh’s likely to be taken straight-face seriously by all manner of people on both the right and the left. There’s kidding, and then there’s incitement to violence.”

    Alex,

    I’m a recent “convert” for lack of a better word to the Rush Limbaugh show, even though I’ve been aware of him for a long time. You see, I always though that he was some kind of racist-right wing-extremist who hated minorities, without actually listening to his program. Then last year, after he was signed to a $400 million contract the New York time ran a lenghty piece on him and I was intrigued.

    Reading that I learned that he does his show with “no writers or script”, so I started listening and now almost never miss his show. I have yet to heard a word from hin inciting people to violence or anything that can be construed as racist or bigotet. His humor is initially shocking for those that don’t follow him. A good example: Rush Limbaugh, every time he mentions senator John Kerry says “who by the way, is a Vietnam veteran”.

    So, if you’re not in on the joke (as I was) you’ll probably think that he is mocking those that served in Vietnam. It was after I while that I found out that he was mocking the fact that senator Kerry never missed an opportunity during his presidential campaign to talk about his war record.

    I don’t expect you to listen to his program if you’re not inclined to, but in all fairness if you’re going to be writting about him the least you can do is give the guy a fair hearing or understand the context of his program.

    Best regards,

    Ulises

  13. “I don’t think Rush was kidding, at least not the way a normal person does it. He was kidding on the square, like, “Haha! Obama’s evil! Haha! but really, the guy is E to the VIL!”

    No, he wasn’t. He really thinks Obama has bad intentions. I don’t agree with him in this regard, but I subscribe to the “road to hell is paved with good intentions” line of though. On health care, Obama and many liberals think that a national health care (as in the U.K. or Canada) is for the better and he will be doing a good thing by bringing that along.

    The fact that Americans enjoy better care than British and Canadians doesn’t think to matter, only the “good intentions”.

  14. The fact that Americans enjoy better care than British and Canadians doesn’t think to matter, only the “good intentions”.

    Except for the large percentage who don’t due to the prohibitively high cost of good insurance. Like me.

    I’ve listened to Limbaugh on occasion, and I don’t really care for him – he could rail on about jade elephants for all I care – but I’ve heard his listener-base say frightening things through either misinformation or ignorance, and it’s the people who take him at face that I worry about. As I said in the article, my main problem is with the logical fallacies that he employs, even while “joking”. The same people who take him at face value use those fallacious arguments to build cases for why they don’t like things (like, say, Obama), which then have a fallacious foundation. And that bothers me – being a (usually) logical person, when people come at me with illogical arguments, trying to reason with that is like banging your head against a brick wall. And I have done both, so I can say with a measure of authority that the experience is comparable. 😉

  15. Alex,

    Just so you know, is not my intention to monopolize this debate in your blog, but as long as you let me I’m going to keep writing back. Just let me know when is time to move on. Regarding your “large percentage who don’t [have insurance]” due to cost I have my own experience to offer. I’m uninsured too.

    I lived up to last year in Puerto Rico, and I have employer provided health insurance. When I made plans to relocate to Florida due to personal reasons, I figured that I would take advantage of the COBRA LAW and keep my insurance at the same price that my employer paid until I got another job here. But when I discussed this with the benefits department I was told that my health insurance does not cover me outside P.R.

    In case of an emergency, I will have to pay out of pocket and would be reimbursed up to $5,000. So you see, as long as I didn’t have a medical emergency that cost more that $5K (assuming that I have that kind of money under the matress), I should be fine. Needles to say, I declined and joined the lines of the “uninsured”. Oh, I could have purchased insurance on my own in Florida, I could pay it, but chose not to. And so did millions of young people that do the same thing, gambling on the fact that they are in good health and don’t need it. As you say, cost is cited as a reason not to get health insurance.

    Why is private health insurance so expensive? One one the reasons cited is that you cannot buy insurance from out of state, and there is a wide disparity between cost across state lines. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself here. Just compare cost between Pennsylvania and New Jersey (for me, as low as $53.00 in PA vs. $195.75 in NJ).

    So, whatever is preventing americans from buying health insurance across state lines (as we buy car, home and other types of insurance) could be dismantled by Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. The have the power and they want to help, don’t they?

  16. Please, I welcome the debate! In defense of socialized medicine, my mother and I were on a trip to Australia and stopped in London for a few days. She had come down with some bad bug or other, and was very ill. She got to see a doctor and get medicine on the NHS, and when she gave them her (private!) insurance information , they demurred, even though she wasn’t a UK citizen.

    Also, just ran my own stats through the site – just for where I live, my insurance could range from $51.00 to $197.89 depending on whether I wanted PPO or HMO coverage. So there’s a wide disparity in-state, too.

    The idea of a social safety net doesn’t appeal to everyone – can’t imagine why – but it makes sense to me. It makes sense to Obama, Reid, and Pelosi, apparently, more sense to them than dismantling whatever bureaucratic barriers there are. (In the end, nationalizing health insurance would probably take less time. 😉 ) A happy medium would be to provide basic government health care, with the option available for a plan from an insurance company.

  17. Ulises, I gotta step in here for a sec. The barrier to purchasing insurance across state lines is differences in insurance regulations, important differences. John McCain wanted to dismantle state mandates that protect consumers, better in some states than in others. One such regulation prevents insurance companies from pulling your application if you get sick, and looking for an uncrossed “T” so they can cancel you retroactively.

    Healthcare is so complex, you have to be careful what you wish for.

  18. Tom,

    Insurance companies can look for uncrossed “T” with other type of insurance too. I’ll bet that if you look around you can find a multitude of cases where someone was denied a claim by an insurance company.
    But yet, we still can buy insurance across state lines; No one has proposed as a “solution” to these practices banning the sale of flood or auto insurance across state lines.

    Regards,

    Ulises

  19. Rush is in good company….ugh! Copy of my recent retweet of an article from Media Matters.:

    RT @mmfa WATCH: Pandemic Paranoia: “Swine Flu” Fear & Loathing in the Conservative Media. http://bit.ly/EGMy4 ….Ellos deben tener verguenza!

  20. Well, I thank you and Tommy for the chance to express my opinion here. As you indicate, it is true that socialized medicine such as it exist in Canada and the U.K. (the most widely cited examples for some reason) works well for minor ailments or for a young couple that only need to get shots for their kids.

    But the problems often cited with those systems are with mayor, catastrophic illness (like cancer) that most of us never think will happen to us. Fact is, the U.S. survival rate for cancer patients higher than in Canada and the U.K. Don’t take my word for it, there was a study by The Lancet Oncology published last year (the CONCORD study) and Medical News Today had an article about it here.

    In Britain cancer patients actually got worse and Clinical Oncology published a study that found that in 2000 20% of curable cancer patients became incurable on the waiting list. I don’t want to fill the whole comments section with horror stories, but you should at least know about what Canadians have to go trough to obtain medical care. Some are suing the government and in a widely reported case in 2005 the Canadian Supreme Court agreed that access to a waiting list is not access to health care.

    I don’t know if when you talk about a “social safety net” you mean nationalized health care, but let’s assume that is so and I’ll tell you why it does not appeal to everyone (including me). In countries where it exists, they try to control cost by rationing health care. In practical term that means that elderly patients treatment is scarified in favor of younger patients. A government bureaucrat gets to decide if you are worthy of the state resources to save your live. So I ask: Should that be appealing to me?

  21. The social safety net I referred to is not just socialized medicine, but Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, Social Security…all the things that keep people from being fed to the crocs when they can no longer work or afford to take care of themselves, for whatever reason. It’s what brings a small measure of humanity to the ruthless winner-take-all-loser-gets-screwed version of capitalism that we practice here.

    I’m not saying the way they do it is the way I think it should be done, but we could give it a fair go in this country. With the sheer amount of people in this country and the high volume of medical incidents, a waiting list would have to be established – but then, we have those for organ donations, and when you walk into the ER. A simple “youngest-first” treatment scenario is frankly a little naive. Forgive me for busting this out as I will undoubtedly sound like a pinko liberal commie, but “to each according to his need” is the idea that makes the most sense to me. I mean…lots of people on both the right and the left like to loudly proclaim that we’re a “Christian nation” (which we’re not – but I’ll get to the Treaty of Tripoli and the separation of church and state in some other entry). Well, what’s more Christian than making sure every one of our own is looked after and not left to die on the wayside? As I said before, a happy medium would be to have a government plan for the regular, everyday visits – checkups, physicals, cold and flu, etc. – and have the insurance companies provide service for chronic illnesses and conditions (at a reduced price since they won’t be covering all the standard doctor visits, of course, and if they reduce their prices, more people will be able to afford healthcare beyond the government issue, and that would likely translate into higher profits for the companies in the end…because I know just how much Americans trust the government with important things like their health, and taxes).

    We’ve got the medical personnel (well, doctors, anyway…we’re a bit short on nurses), we’d have the money if we reappropriated some of the budget and raised taxes on the richest 1% of the population…who knows what we could accomplish if we just tried? I’m not Zeke Emanuel and I’ve no intention of going into medicine – my ideas and opinions are drawn from my own life experience, so I’m not the best person to ask if you want to overhaul the medical system. This is, like I said, what resonates with my “common sense” bone.

  22. […] Rushing to Conclusions […]

  23. […] Rushing to Conclusions […]

  24. Alex,

    Well, we’re no longer talking about health care then, but about our personal beliefs about how things ought to be. Your belief that we live in a system where the “winner-take-all-loser-gets-screwed” assumes that everything is a zero-sum game: If I win it means that someone has to lose. I can only ask you to look around you at the tools you are using to write your blog.

    There are a lot of “winners” making a lot of money with the hardware, software and network you are using. The guys who invented youtube got a $1.5 billion paydate, so they surely are winners. Google gave them the money, so they are winners too. So who were the losers? I certainly feel like a winner using their inventions. You and thousands if not millions are winners because they use these same tools to express their views, and discuss them with others who may or may not share them.

    In a personal note, I come from a socialist family in the Dominican Republic. My father and at least two uncles fought angaist the U.S. troops that Lyndon Johnson send during the April 1965 revolution, and one of them thinks that Cuba is paradise on earth (having never lived there, he gets his “news” from Cubavision).

    I was 10 years old when the socialists won the presidency with president Antonio Guzman in 1978, and the next 8 years they ruined the country so bad that ultra-conservative Joaquin Balaguer was able to win the 1986 elections. So I know socialism, I’ve been exposed to it and how it ruins the lives of the ordinary people that its proponent wants to “help”.

    Again, nice discussing this matters with you and I’ll keep you in my reading list.

    Regards,

    Ulises

  25. Ok, I’ll partially concede that point to you, since I enjoy the internet very much – but the free-market system is no panacea. When it was introduced to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, things barely changed for the vast majority of people, just some people now had fancy suits and cars and lots of money. And I’m not a “loser” in this equation, nor is anyone who’s had the advantages that I’ve had. The “losers” are those who live in poverty and are starving because there’s no apparent profit in building infrastructure/capacity and training those in developing nations, and many charities just throw money at the problem, which doesn’t help, and many organizations are inefficient.

    My mother, who is Dominican as well (hola, Dominicano!), lived in the DR during the ’80s, and she does recall that corruption was rampant under Guzman…and that Balaguer was Trujillo’s puppet way back when, and kept that ideology, running things very tight. I’d be very interested in learning more about Dominican political history.

    Utter socialism, like utopia, is a great idea, but when implemented on a large scale it hardly ever works. It’s a human failing; we like power, and we like wielding it. This is why I’m not advocating hardcore socialism – perish the thought, I’m liking this democratic republic thing we have going on – but laissez-faire practices can allow certain elements to run roughshod over the people. Moderation in all things – additional elements of social care would not destroy the nation. Yeah, a free market is great…but there’s a difference between freedom and anarchy. Large corporations and other such entities must be regulated, or at least have their focus brought more to their human elements and not just their bottom lines.

    I’ve enjoyed this, thank you for debating me! I’ll have to learn more Spanish so I can read you, too. 🙂

  26. Talk about rushing to judgement before you know any facts. Did you hear that bitch from the show T.V. show 24 who said everyone that attended the tea parties is a racist. I doubt she has ever even talked to anyone that attended. Those of us that attended do not beleive in the two party system we have presently. We are both upset with the current adminstration as well as the previous one for the TARP money spent to save bussinesses that should instead file backruptcy in the first place. Just like Chrysler is now after how many billions of our tax dollars were spent. Lest you forget this is our money and no one has asked any of us how to spend it. In fact we were promised by our new president that there would be no more ear marks. But then he signed the 1100 page bill that no one in our Senate or House even took the time to read which is full of ear marks. At least the former administration kept us safe from any further attacks. This guy won’t even keep us safe from the swine flu by not closing the border and not only the flu but what ever other low life terrorist or otherwise will come accross. And if this administration continues down this road of government run everything it will be the death of our economy. His proposed budgets are unsustainable and will leave no future for our children.

  27. “My mother, who is Dominican as well (hola, Dominicano!), lived in the DR during the ’80s, and she does recall that corruption was rampant under Guzman…and that Balaguer was Trujillo’s puppet way back when, and kept that ideology, running things very tight. I’d be very interested in learning more about Dominican political history.”

    OMG! Small world, indeed! Well, more of reason to keep reading you then, so that when you are a famous writer and/or journalist I could say that I was reading you from the beginning.. he he…
    By the way, tell your mom that sadly corruption is still rampant in the DR. Antonio Guzman may have not been a great economist, but he was a real democrat and a decent man.

    About Balaguer and Trujillo I’ve become convinced that the real puppet master in their relationship was Balaguer. Just think about it: Trujillo died and Balaguer no only inherited the “throne”, but all the political apparatus that sustained Trujillo’s dictatorship and became the ultimate master of Dominican politics literally until the day of his death.

    By the way, I don’t think Trujillo really died. Yes, he was gun down in 1961 and his body is somewhere in a Madrid cemetery, but Balaguer keep at it as his second coming and our current president (Leonel Fernández) is the latest, “kinder and gentler” incarnation. You want to know more I recommend “The Dominican Republic: A National History” by Frank Moya Pons.

    Also the novel “The Feast of the Goat” by Mario Vargas Llosa (yes, he’s a capitalist pig, but so am I and you’re reading me.. he he). Vargas Llosa spent months in the Dominican Republic interviewing Balaguer, who at the time was prostrated in bed (and even then he was running for president and came in third place). He managed to open a window to the people that surrounded the dictator and how they competed for his attention.

    It was made into a movie with Isabella Rossellini playing Balaguer…not really, just messing with you…but she was in the movie…


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